Regence BlueShield and Habitat SKC have enjoyed a partnership since 2014, netting nearly $400,000 to support a variety of programs that enable those with health and socioeconomic disparities to purchase homes and stay in their existing homes. In fact, the company’s market president, Tim Lieb, is a Habitat volunteer, donor and Board member, most recently taking the helm of the Habitat Board as president.
Regence’s annual contribution, this year at $60K, will go toward Habitat’s Critical Repairs program, that works with homeowners who need assistance with critical repairs that will alleviate health and safety issues. A large portion of the program, Aging in Place, serves seniors 62 and over and/or homeowners of any age with disabling conditions such as mobility issues or sensory impairments. Aging in Place includes a complete home assessment, with recommendations of repairs to make the home safe and accessible.
Sixty-nine percent of the clients served by the Critical Repairs program over the past year were seniors, and 22 of the 32 home repair projects completed last year were for seniors living in a home that were directly impacted by the repair services Habitat provided.
Betty is 97 and lives in the Vantage Glen community for seniors in Renton. She is still independent and active, and takes a daily walk around the neighborhood. During Betty’s home assessment it was noted that she needed better lighting in her living room, as her vision is not as sharp as it used to be. Habitat installed new, brighter lighting in her living room. Habitat also provided a much-needed roof replacement, repainted the exterior of Betty’s home and conducted some minor siding repairs.
Irvin and Barbara Stevens
Irvin and Barbara bought their South Seattle home in 1998 and were a fixture in their neighborhood for the past 22 years. Irvin was a Navy veteran who had undergone multiple treatments for several months last year after he was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer with brain metastasis. Increasingly, it became clear that Irvin, age 73, would need a ramp for access in and out of his home.
The Stevens’ home also had some additional immediate needs, including a roof leak that was beginning to undermine the plywood and cause rotting in parts of the ceiling. Additionally, the garage door wasn’t able to be secured which concerned Barbara as her home hairdressing salon is located next to the garage. With Irvin’s medical needs, the couple was finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with their home repairs. Due to the immediate need and capacity of the project, Habitat’s Critical Repairs team provided the Stevens with a full roof replacement; a new ramp, garage door and window for accessibility and security; and lead-safe paint prep work to repaint the home in the Spring. Sadly, Irvin passed away following the completion of the repairs, but the ramp did help ensure he could safely enter and exit their home during his last days, and now Barbara has the comfort of knowing she is safe and secure in the home they shared for so long.
Alice purchased her home in Burien nearly 40 years ago. When her mother became ill, and needed fulltime care, Alice quit her job and moved her into her own home in order to care for her. This put an incredible strain on her finances, forcing Alice to take out a second mortgage in order make ends meet. A few years after her mother’s passing, Alice herself began experiencing serious health issues, which put additional pressure on her finances and emotional well-being. When she began having roof leaks, and was notified of the absence of insulation under the home, she contacted Habitat’s Critical Repairs team for help
The team replaced her roof, installed much-needed insulation, and following the home assessment, thinned out several large trees that were encroaching on the house and replaced the large, living room window that was fully cracked.
These are just a few examples of how Regence BlueShield’s financial support has made a difference in the lives of Puget Sound area seniors, during times when they were the most vulnerable. Future plans for Habitat’s Aging in Place program include the recent hiring of an experienced program coordinator, Linda Hunt, who is working to increase the capacity of the program even further over the coming years. In fact, plans are to complete 58 projects, including at least 10 Aging in Place interventions, in 2021, and some of the funds Regence BlueShield is providing will purchase equipment that can be used to help those clients age safely, including grab bars, shower/bathtub chairs and benches, bathtub conversions, and more.
“Habitat’s Home Repair program provides a vital service that allows individuals to stay in their homes, at a time when access to safe, stable housing is more important than ever,” said Tim Lieb. “Regence’s long-standing partnership with Habitat aligns with our commitment to address social determinants of health, like affordable housing, that have a strong influence on well-being.”
We couldn’t be more grateful for the ongoing commitment to the health and wellbeing of our region’s seniors by this amazing organization.
About Habitat for Humanity Seattle – King County
In Seattle-King County and around the world, Habitat for Humanity brings people together as volunteers, homeowners, donors, and community members to create strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter, ranking in the top 20 of America’s Favorite Charities for 2019 by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Habitat for Humanity Seattle – King County constructs affordable homes, revitalizes neighborhoods, repairs homes for low-income people and seniors, operates discount home improvement stores in Auburn, Southcenter, and Bellevue, and mobilizes more than 4,300 volunteers a year. Learn more at www.Habitatskc.org.